Mercy House

Morrow. Feb. 2020. 384p. ISBN 9780062914804. pap. $16.99. F
DEBUT In Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, an unassuming row home is a welcoming refuge for young women escaping the streets and abusive relationships. Mercy House is led by Sister Evelyn, a nun with abundant compassion for these women and her fellow sisters. Yet when Evelyn hears that the bishop, Robert Hawkins, nicknamed the Hawk by the sisters, will be visiting Mercy House to scrutinize the home’s mission and activities, she worries that he’ll uncover some of their unsanctioned efforts. Evelyn also realizes it’s finally time to face her own dark past. While fiction and nonfiction author Dillon’s debut novel is heartwarming and easy to read, it never glosses over the history of abuse and sexism in the Catholic church. In an era of #metoo and the publicity of the church’s sexual abuse cases, this work is well researched, timely, and affirming.
VERDICT For readers looking for a passionate, if flawed, lead female character, Sister Evelyn delivers. Those interested in religious fiction will also appreciate a simple narrative tackling complex church events. Perfect for reading groups. [See Prepub Alert, 8/12/19.]

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